The Alliance for Change (AFC) yesterday walked out of the National Assembly prior to the reading of the 2014 national budget, calling it a violation of Guyana’s Constitution because of the lack of consultation by the government.
AFC members arrived and took their seats and sometime later MP Cathy Hughes rose and spoke in honour of the late APNU MP and former deputy speaker Debbie Backer who died on Friday morning.
A few minutes later, AFC members got up and quietly walked out of the House; Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh had not yet begun his budget presentation.
According to a press release it issued, the AFC said it “absented itself… to register its protest…” It said government had ample time within which to hold “meaningful consultations on the budget.” Thus AFC members thought it best not to dignify the budget speech with their presence.AFC said the government’s actions were a breach of democracy, citing article 13 of Guyana’s Constitution which states that the principle objective of the political system is to establish an inclusionary democracy.
It was further stated that government-opposition consultation is not only useful political behaviour but also promotes the type of democracy Guyana needs.
AFC said in its statement that the government tries to reduce the role of the majority opposition from an active participant in national decision making to one of an inert listener while doubting the sobriety of Singh’s presentation of the 2014 national budget.
It said it assumed that Singh would more than likely turn to the blame game and sojourn into the past to support evident failures in an attempt to strengthen negative propaganda against the AFC.
AFC also said the Capital Estimates would be padded to include high profile, pet projects for which multi-billion contracts would be “approved” by the cabinet under the “no objection” status quo, in anticipation of the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission.
AFC added that the budget was being presented by a minister who is accused of disobeying the decisions of the National Assembly and restoring funds that were disregarded by the assembly; for which he has been placed before the Privileges Committee of the National Assembly.
The party said it has a vested interest as a patriotic and national movement to support increased allocations for the social sectors including education, health, housing, water, environment, and security while adding that AFC will demand more monies be allocated for wages, pensions and social assistance.
AFC reiterated its support for subventions to organisations that promote assistance to the vulnerable in the society.
The alliance also said that the 2014 budget is overshadowed by the ruling of Chief Justice which stated that “the National Assembly may approve or not approve the estimates of expenditure…” AFC added that however, the ruling has since been appealed.
The press release said that while AFC respects the ruling of Guyana’s courts, it reserves the “right to abide with the people’s mandate to guard the national purse, and fight the squander mania, waste and corruption by whatever means available to us under the Standing Orders of the National Assembly, in the Committee of Supply.”